In the lead up to our Trailblazing Women of Herstory exhibition, you’ll hear from some of our team members on who blazed the trail for them, and in whose footsteps they have chosen to follow.
For our (Wo)manager, Carmen, it is Gloria Steinem.
It goes without saying that Gloria Steinem is a feminist icon, a visionary and a status quo smashing badass of the highest order. At 83 years young she is arguably the closest thing there is to a living ‘grandmother’ of the feminist movement and, still, she continues to travel the world speaking out about violence against women, reproductive rights and social justice.
In 1971, she founded Ms. magazine with Dorothy Pitman Hughes, which proved to the world that women are capable of writing about more than the so-called ‘fluff pieces’ that they were generally assigned. In 1978, Steinem wrote a semi-satirical essay for Cosmopolitan titled "If Men Could Menstruate". She concludes in the essay that in such a world, menstruation would become a badge of honour with men comparing their relative sufferings, rather than the source of shame that it had been for women. These are just two of the reasons that I love her.
She is a journalist, an activist, a writer, a feminist organiser and an indomitable force for social change. She espouses a brilliantly intersectional, inclusive and modern feminism relevant to young women like me - a feminism that allows us to enter the movement and to learn quickly what it’s all about.
At the Melbourne Town Hall in May, 2016, not only did I have the absolute privilege of listening to her speak but I had the honour of actually meeting her.
As I was walking up to the venue, I spotted a woman standing tall with a purple scarf draped around her neck, huddled in a group of women. I realised very quickly that this was none other than Ms Steinem herself, and that I would probably never get the chance to meet her again. If you know me, you’d know that I wasn’t going to die wondering.
I walked up, introduced myself, and asked her if she wouldn’t mind having a quick photo. I told her what an honour it was to meet her and do you know what she said to me? She said: "No, it's an honour to meet you. Thank you for coming." Just wow.
As someone who studied ‘history’ through school and university - one of my most profound takeaways from Gloria’s interview was that "history and the past are not the same thing."
Too often the roles, achievements, contributions, ideas and activism of women, and other marginalised groups, are not captured in the history books. As women and as a women-focused organisation, we need to continue to speak up, to tell our stories, share other women’s stories, blaze trails and make herstory.
And that’s the little seed that Gloria Steinem, almost certainly unknowingly, planted for what would become our inaugural Trailblazing Women of Herstory Exhibition.
Gloria, if you’re reading this (a girl can dream!) - thank you. For everything.
Everyone else, if you want to be part of celebrating herstory with us, come and visit us at our extravaganza of feminism and art at Neospace from November 26th - December 10th.
Excitingly, we have an original portrait of Gloria Steinem in the exhibition by Melbourne-based, Canadian stencil artist Sarah Skarlicki. Sarah will also be running a stencil art workshop on Wednesday 30th November and tickets will be strictly limited.
Be the first to find out when tickets go on sale here.